The Super Bowl Commercial That Mocked Religious Believers

I loved it only in part because of the premise: A man spills salsa on his Jersey to reveal an outline of Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana. People come from miles around to see the “Miracle Stain“… until the man’s wife (a Baltimore Ravens fan) washes it away with Tide detergent:

It’s clever, funny, and a complete mockery of all those religious believers who take this premise seriously when it concerns Jesus or the Virgin Mary instead of a football player.

In 2010, there was an uproar when Focus on the Family paid for an anti-choice commercial starring Tim Tebow.

This year we saw a (mostly-lackluster) set of commercials where the spots people are talking about include a Scientology-sponsored ad (seen only in certain cities) and a spot for Dodge Ram trucks featuring a Paul Harvey voice-over about how God made farmers.

After all of that, this commercial was a welcome change.

In fact, it may be the closest thing to an anti-religious Super Bowl ad we’ve ever seen.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Gmo44

    I liked it too, but then they trumped it with god making farmers

  • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

    Haha I loved the miracle stain commercial. I wouldn’t say it “mocked religious believers” though- unless one thinks that all religious people are the type that gets all excited over the Virgin Mary on a piece of toast. I’m a Christian, but that’s just silly.

    • PietPuk

      Hello pn628, I’m not picking a fight here, just curious. Where do you draw the line of sillyness? Jesus on a toast? Mary on a building? Crying/bleeding statues? Visions of Mary? And how do you decide which ones are silly?

      • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

        Christ on toast? Silly. Christ healing the sick magically? Totally legit.

      • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

        Okay, good question. The miracles in the bible seemed to all have a purpose behind them- like Jesus wanting to help someone or demonstrate some point about God. But if God is showing us “miracle stains”- what’s the point of that?

        Seems like it’s just the human tendency to look for patterns in a bunch of randomness.

        • PietPuk

          But if God is showing us “miracle stains”- what’s the point of that?

          I do agree with you about the sillyness of it all.
          But, apparently to the people taking these things seriously it means a lot. For one thing, the ‘miracle’ is an actual piece of toast. You can hold it, see it, share it, etc. That is more than can be said for any miracle claimed in the bible. So do you understand that belief in bronze age mythology seems equally silly to an atheist like me?

          • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

            Yeah I get what you’re saying. :) Ideally I’d like to convince you that Christianity is not “bronze age mythology” but the comment section here isn’t really the place for that. :)

            • Mario Strada

              Strictly speaking, Judaism is an “Early Iron Age” religion and that makes Christianity a “Late Iron Age” religion. But Bronze Age sounds so much better.

              As far as taking time to explain why Christianity is not a “Bronze age” religion, I am afraid many people on this board are already plenty aware of every apologetic argument out there. You seem like a nice person, I would just live and let live.

              As far as the ad being a mockery of believers, it is certainly so. Obviously it doesn’t mock those believers that do not give any weight to burned toasts with Jesus effigy, but obviously there are plenty of Christians that look at a burned toast and believe Jesus did it. I hope that you’ll agree with me that those people should be mocked or at least are good candidates for mockery.

            • PietPuk

              Thanks for your honest replies :)

              Ideally I’d like to convince you that Christianity is not “bronze age mythology”

              And I think the people believing the toast is a message from god really would like to convince you of their conviction.

        • Drakk

          >> Seems like it’s just the human tendency to look for patterns in a bunch of randomness.

          What, like how some people still think a magic guy made the universe despite how random it is?

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

          Hey, guys, I kinda like this one, xe’s self-aware and reasonably intelligent. Can we give hir a chance?

        • Maria

          Hey, sucks that Drakk down there didn’t seem to respect that ya’ll were having a civil back and forth!! But I think many on this site see ALL RELIGION as the human tendency to look for patterns in a bunch of randomness. That’s how I feel about people believing in afterlives, the reward/punishment system, life having a “divine purpose”, etc. Back in the olden days, people just didn’t know how to categorize/make sense of the world so they came up with various religions to help explain it all. Then science came along, and kind of messed that all up! So to you, people seeing jesus in toast is people looking for patterns in the randomness, but we see (for example) someone “knowing” that their dead relatives are looking down on them from heaven is also someone looking for a pattern to the randomness that is life!

  • RTH

    Wasn’t Cain the first farmer?

  • http://twitter.com/TweetThatSheet Daniel Brown

    I don’t see this as making fun of religious believers at all. They are taking a “well understood” phenomenon of seeing god and making a humorous play off it. It’s like they are saying, “You know how people see Jesus in things… How funny would it be if instead we saw this in a Jersey?”

    • Montana Fan

      Mehta is grasping at straws on this one. He sounds desperate.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Harrison/23417637 Michael Harrison

        Or — another possibility — this is an example of worldview shaping interpretation.

    • C Peterson

      If the idea of seeing Jesus in a tortilla weren’t inherently absurd, the commercial would not have worked. This commercial is a reminder of the kookiness of seeing such things, and is therefore certainly mocking a class of religionists- even if it isn’t doing so consciously or deliberately.

    • Blacksheep

      Exactly.

  • Rain

    The Scientology ad callously mocked religious believers.

  • Emmet

    A complete mockery! Oo-whee. Mocked!
    Completely!
    All those religious believers! All them! Completely mocked!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000134938250 Ryan Mullet

    What about the Bud Light commercial? It’s only weird if it doesn’t work. Sure they are talking about voodoo but the same argument holds for religion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Reg-Metcalf/1031110428 Reg Metcalf

    actually, i rather liked the ram truck commercial. i know, i know, but just aesthetically it was damned good: that voice, those words, the images. as a rationalist, i realize it was meant to appeal to my emotions: it’s a COMMERCIAL, ferchrissakes! ipso facto, it’s relationship to “truth” is questionable. i think it’s message isn’t evangelical so much as “farmers are good things (well, yeah god-made things), we like farmers, you should like us”. ie, the message of ALL commercials. they just happened to find one where paul freakin’ harvey knocks it out of the park.

  • http://twitter.com/Chizwick Charlie

    As a Ravens fan, I enjoyed the commercial almost as much as the win!

  • Blacksheep

    “The Super Bowl Commercial That Mocked Religious Believers”…

    …except that nobody who I was with last night felt mocked by it (in fact it never even occurred to me until reading this post). I thought it was a clever, funny ad!

  • Brian P.

    The Dodge truck ad was epic. Spectacular aesthetic.

    If the aesthetic was anything, it was nostalgic.

    Paul Harvey, and his smoothing fatherly voice, is an icon of 20th century America.

    And if nostalgia does anything, it idealizes.

    Four things were nostalgically idealized in that commercial.

    1. Agriculture

    Something that started in the mist of recorded history, in the Fertile Crescent and elsewhere, that has fueled our human population through the Industrial Revolution and Information Age.

    2. Religion

    With Harvey’s allusion to the texts the Abrahamic faiths that emerged in the adrian Axial Age and have inspired the West through today.

    3. Americana

    Less America as a nation state, and more America as a cultural ideal, and full flowering of that tradition and its work ethic.

    4. Dodge Trucks

    As potent symbol of all that cultural foundation. Not just God and Country, but Crop. Perhaps even fertility god Baal would have relished at this one more than Israel patron war god YHWH.

    This ad by no means mocked religion, but…

    It casts it in a respectful, nostalgic, agrarian cultural context that anthropologically ought make us wonder how we frame our past and give honor to ancestors, and in some way, perhaps even Rednecks.

    Dodge ends the ad with the graphic overlay, “To the farmer in all of us.”

    In many ways, there is an appropriate tribute to, dare I say, “to the believer in all of us,” and “to the human in all of us” too.

  • http://twitter.com/_mikeweber Mike Weber

    I actually liked the god made farmers commercial. Even if god didn’t actually make farmers, everything else that was said seems to be true. I don’t know why I like it, but it stuck with me. That and the clydesdale commercial. That one really gave me the feels.

  • http://www.facebook.com/antonia.p.reed Antonia Popoki Reed

    I didn’t see this as anti-religious until I read your blog post above, and now I totally see it as making fun of religion. coming from a Catholic background, i found this particularly hilarious, as at one point, we had a stain that my mother would not remove on the wall that vaguely looked like the Virgin Mary.

  • MavAtheist

    Recently someone dubbed the Scientology Ad to make it look like an Atheist Ad. I almost shared it on Facebook myself. I believe it to be dishonest to make it seem like it was shown at the super bowl and even more dishonest to use the Scientology’s Ad as one’s own. Think of all the atheists that shared or will share the post on facebook to their religious friends and to other atheists. Credibility is so important especially to atheists.


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